Copyrightability of maps
Posted Jan 14, 2011 18:00 UTC (Fri) by giraffedata
In reply to: Reconciliation between CC and ODC
Parent article: OpenStreetMap's point of no return
I don't think there is anything in the statues referring to 'creative' (though I might be wrong).
Well the statutes are a tiny fraction, a mere whisper, of the law. Written court opinions use "creative" a lot. They actually prefer "original," but that is practically a synonym.
Ones I've seen also like to stress that copyright covers expression of facts, as opposed to facts. It provides writers a way to get paid for their writing by the people who benefit from it, but doesn't provide researchers a way to get paid from their research by the people who benefit from it.
There is a major case in this area in the US from 1991: Feist vs Rural Telephone Service Co. Feist copied all the names, addresses, and phone numbers from Rural's telephone directory into a compilation of directories. The court said Rural could do nothing to stop that. It said that a writing has to cross a certain threshold of originality to trigger copyright, and that alphabetical order is not sufficiently original. So Rural's telephone directory was not copyrightable.
I can see this apply to some maps. Telling someone the shape of a coastline by drawing a scale picture of it is the least original way imaginable to do that. I can also see how a more elaborate map could cross that threshold. But by the same token, looking at that fancy map and making another one with the same information shown another way probably wouldn't violate that copyright.
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